Saturday, December 13, 2008

monica and tony.....

I of course will never forget that March evening in 1977 when the doctor said to me: "We have an emergency situation here; there's more than one baby and we don't know how many there are...get dressed!" There was a shock setting in as I donned the hospital robe and cap and as my wife Linda was being wheeled past me on the hospital bed she smiled and gave a little wave.

As it turned out there were only two little girls born that night....still a complete surprise to all involved, and I am still pretty relieved that there were only two for I do believe I had visions of an entire basketball team! Erica Rae and Monica Lee have been a joy and a treat in my life ever since that night...and since Monica was the second to be born she has been known in the family as being the "bonus baby".

During supper one night back when Monica was a teenager she asked me what time it was. I looked across the kitchen to the microwave, stated the time, and she replied: "You can see that?!" Of course the rest of us came back with: "You can't?" It was then that we knew that she needed to see the eye doctor! So she did, got fitted with glasses, and was very impressed by the fact that the doctor had helped her...that one person could do so much to help another. This feeling has stayed with her to this day and has also lead her to her vocation.

She started off her higher education at a four year college. One night at a party she met a couple of folks who were radiologists and she was impressed enough with them that she dropped out of college (much to the chagrin of her older brother Noel) and enrolled in a tech school. She still had that dream of helping people, and she told me that although radiographers are not highly paid, she didn't grow up "rich" so it was no big deal. (have I mentioned yet how much I love my daughter?)

After graduating as a radiographer Monica turned to ultrasound, applying at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota for the ultrasound program. The clinic accepted only 100 applications and consequently only accepted 10 students....and of course Monica was accepted! (have I mentioned how intelligent she is? >g<) She finished the grueling 22 month program with a 4.0 grade point; and it was then that she discovered that there was an opportunity that made for an exciting few years....she became a "traveling ultrasound tech". Within a year of graduation she joined a company in which she was able to work in different parts of the country for either 6 months or a year...and she was making over a 6 figure salary! (so much for not being "rich"..>g<) Over the ensuing years she worked in Flagstaff, Arizona, Norfolk, Nebraska, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a few stints in Madison, Wisconsin. She would "go away" for a period of time but then come back to Wisconsin to be close to her family.

And a big treat for me was the fact that during this time she was able to join me at every festival at least once that I was going to with my business! She would specify in her contract with whatever hospital she was going to work for that she needed such and such dates off 'cause she was going to a festival with her daddy! Sometimes she was able to travel with me and sometimes she'd just fly to the festival...and we sure had a blast!

So---she took a job one time in Bridgeport, Connecticut. She had just arrived in town and had just got settled in her apartment when she called me and asked: "I should know Tony Trischka, shouldn't I?" "Of course...", I replied. "He's pretty good, right?" "Of have heard lots of his music while growing up!" "Well...he's playing in a club just down the street on Friday night; should I go to see him?" "Of course...!"

I have been a fan of Tony Trischka's since the mid-70s. I first became aware of him while he was playing with his band "Skyline". I was just getting into the bluegrass music, and while I realized that this band was not strictly bluegrass, it was close enough for me! Since then I have been treated to lots of fine music because of the man...and I wasn't really surprised when I found that he was actually Bela Fleck's banjo teacher. Tony is a monster musician, as they say....

Anyhoo--I know a fellow who is a longtime friend of Tony's. I contacted him and he sent me Tony's email address. I wrote to Tony, explaining that Monica was brand new in "town" and knew no one, and would be coming to his show on Friday night. And, would he please dedicate a tune for her? He answered back, telling me that it would be his priviledge.

That night's concert was a solo concert in which Tony featured his "World Turning" project; a marvelous project in which he explores the history of the banjo. (Monica told me later that she learned much more about the banjo than she ever thought possible..>g<) During the show she was diggin' the crowd, checking them out, when she heard Tony dedicate the next tune to "Monica". Her first thought was that: "wow..there's another Monica in the room; cool". But then when he went on to say that this tune was sent to her from her Father, she immediately knew what was going on and her thought was: "How did he DO this?!" (she knows her father very well....>g<) After the show she got to meet Tony, thanking him for the evening....he told her that her Dad is a big fan of hers.

I have had the opportunity since to thank Tony in person for being so's a treat to find that musical heroes of yours are also fine people.

Peace, David

Thursday, November 20, 2008

last festival trip 2008...part 4

This trip to the Magnoliafest turned out to be a bittersweet occasion. I first attended the Magfest back in 1998; it was the second festival that I attended as a businessman. I have many fond memories of this's always been fun and I have made many friends down there in Florida. There are of course many of the same friends that also attend the Suwannee Springfest, which is held in March at the same venue. Beth and Randy Judy are the promoters of both of these fine festivals and they always do a great job.

This year I was walking away from the Meadow Stage when a fellow approached me and excitedly said "Hi!" He told me that we had met before...and that both he and his wife had been attending the Springfest and the Magfest for about 10 years now. He went on to tell me that they have had fun watching me dance all this while....they are especially impressed with the fact that it seemed as if I always get to dance with the most beautiful women! (I like that part, myself...>g<) He went on to say that they even have a name for me... (mmm..., is what I was thinking) When I asked what this was he replied: "We call you Mr. Dance Man!" I was of course amused by this, and then he asked me where in Florida that I live. When I told him that I live in Wisconsin he exclaimed: "And you come all the way down here for the festivals?!" I told him that I actually attend with my business and he then asked: "and what business is that?!" Now, I usually have in my pocket a live show or two on cd and I like to pass them out to friends, customers, and strangers. Included with the cd I put one of my business's a great way to share music and do a little advertising at the same time. The cd that I presented him was a Doc and Merle Watson show from Telluride 1985...and when I turned it over to reveal the card and he saw it he absolutely cracked up! It sure was a fun moment....>g<

Another highlight of the festival happened during the after-festival party, held backstage. I came across a jam goin' on....all three Rowan brothers, David Gans, Randy Judy, and a mandolin player who I didn't know were rockin' out to a whole bunch of Beatle was great! It is such a treat to be able to witness and hear fine musicians such as these havin' fun and playing at such a high level. I love it...

Ok---the bittersweet part of the Magfest for me is the fact that I probably won't be goin' back. For some reason that I can't for the life of me figure out, I don't do well at all, business-wise, at this festival! I promote it as I do all of the festivals I go to, it's of the same high quality as of all the other festivals on my schedule, the venue and the weather is top-notch, etc. etc...... It's a mystery to me; I sell out at all other festivals and actually have to turn away customers at most of them. My sellout is around 20 campsites, and for this particular Magfest I had 3....makes no sense. I don't do particularly well at the Springfest either...another mystery. I am very saddened by this, but I don't have a choice in dropping it from my schedule. I am going to go back to the Springfest next March to try it one more time, and hopefully I'll do well enough to justify continuing this festival. I have many many friends at these festivals and I'll miss all of them and all of them will miss me. I did tell quite a few folks about this during the festival and everyone had the same shocked response: "You HAVE to keep coming!" I am honored by their concern....

Wish me luck!

Peace, David

last festival trip 2008....part 3

The teardown operation at LEAF went smoothly, as one always hopes it will! Lynne is a wonderful young woman who has helped me several times at LEAF, including the tornado episode from last May. She and I work great together...she's a hard worker who has a great sense of humor and a wonderful work ethic; I was lucky to find her and I hope she sticks around Asheville for a few more years!

After the teardown I headed down to Florida for the Magnoliafest, in Live Oak, Florida. This festival is held at the same venue as the Suwannee Springfest, which is held in March every year. It is one of those festivals that always has an eclectic's geared more to the electric side of the musical genres, and the Springfest more to the acoustic. Besides being held at a sweet venue, the northern Florida weather in both March and October is usually ideal for a festival....and this year was no exception. Highs in the mid 70s and lows in the mid
50s are perfect in my opinion, and we even received some timely rain; the kind that is welcomed as a dust quencher!

This year's lineup was a included Mr. Sam Bush, so I knew it would be a treat, right off the bat! Sammy of course did not disappoint...he first played with Dread Clampitt on the Meadow Stage on Saturday afternoon and as he always does, he made that young band elevate their music! He had befriended them while on vacation in Florida a couple of years ago and so had jammed with them on several previous occasions; plus, I do believe that he is featured on their new cd. Then on Saturday night he rocked the Ampitheatre Stage as only he can. I got to visit with him a bit after his performance and was proud to give him a Dancin'Dave t-shirt. He then sat in for a few songs with KBM, a band made up of former Grateful Dead drummer Bill
Kreutzmann, bassist Oteil Burbridge and guitarist Scott Muraski. I was not that impressed with this band, but the tunes that Sammy sat in with them on his electric mandolin sure were hot!


Sam and Dread Clampitt....

And if it weren't for Sam, it would be an easy choice for what I would have chosen for the most exciting performances of the festival! I had been aware of Rushad Eggleston for a few years now...I first saw him and his cello playing with Darol Anger and Mike Marshall, and then of course with the outstanding band, Crooked Still. He definitely impressed me then and it was also obvious that he is a different sort of cat...he could even be described as just a "little" crazy! So, when I saw that he and his new band "Tornado Rider" were scheduled I didn't know what to expect! Well...he blew me away!! I don't know how to describe the music, other than powerful, loud, and unlike any I've heard before. Rushad was joined by a bassist and a drummer...quite the percussion-oriented ensemble! Rushad straps his cello to his body, sort of like a guitar, and he is frenetically driven. He's a whirling dervish, with frenzied movements all over the stage. I did take some videos, but the sound quality was poor, so I won't be uploading them to this blog. Needless to say, the two sets that I caught were mind-blowing and hard for me to describe while doing justice.


Other bands/acts that I really enjoyed were Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams; David Gans; Joe Craven; Peter Rowan; The Rowan Brothers; The Duhks; and the Sunday afternoon Bluegrass Jam which was hosted by Peter Rowan. Also, I was pretty impressed with a new band, Moonalice; a band that is named for "a mysterious tribe of mythical nomad farmers known for growing hemp". Plus, my old pals from Wisconsin, Sloppy Joe, are always fun.

The Duhks...

Sloppy Joe....

Joe Craven...

There will be a Part 4 to this "last festival trip..." blog; later.

Peace, David

Monday, November 10, 2008

last 2008 festival trip....part 2

Erica Bell, Development Directer; and Jennifer Pickering, producer...modeling their "Dancin'Dave" t-shirts!

The Sparrow Quartet

The Lake Eden Arts Festival quickly became one of my favorites as soon as I started attending a few years ago. Jennifer Pickering is the producer of this marvelous festival, and she had invited me to bring my business and I'm sure glad I took up her offer! It is the most eclectic festival on my schedule, along with being the dancin-est! (right up my alley...) It is held on a superb venue near Asheville, North Carolina; Camp Rockmont is a boys' camp and Jennifer actually grew up on the grounds. It is a magical place, the former home of Black Mountain College.

One thing that really attracts me to this festival is the fact that I am never familiar with more than a few of the musical groups on the lineup! It truly is a world-music festival, and one that features many different genres of music. It also had a marvelous Kids' Program, fine arts, a variety of dance, and even a trapeze. (I opt to NOT learn how to fly through the air with any kind of ease...)

On Thursday night attendees were treated to a steel pan jazz ensemble, some hypnotic world melodies with Rising Appalachia (which features two talented sisters who grew up attending LEAF and who are both are really fun to dance with...>g<), and Menage, a swinging roosty kind of rock band from the Asheville area. They were lots of fun to dance to as well.

On Friday I got to see and hear Leon Redbone! Talk about smooth.... He was one of the artists I was anxious to see; I have never had the pleasure of catching him live, and he did not disappoint...what a hoot. Scott Perry played some sweet blues and Martha & The Moodswingers were also a treat for we folk who love to dance. Plus, I caught a little of Donna the Buffalo, and they were greeted as usual by an energetic, dancin' crowd. Alot of the day I roamed around, diggin' some sweet old-time jams and visiting with customers, both old and new.

On Saturday the High Windy Band featured some fine traditional bluegrass; Terrence Simien & The Zydeco Experience had the Main Stage rockin'; and they were followed by Scythian, who I was very familiar with...this band takes a backseat to no band as far as energy displayed! They are a riot... I took in another swing dance set by Martha & The Moodswingers 'cause it would be hard to pass up such fine dance music and so many fine dance partners. My favorite act of the day had to be Robert Earl Keen, yet another act that I had been looking forward to....Robert and his hot band had everyone bouncin' around at the Main Stage! To close the night I took in the Legendary JC's, an R&B and Soul revue, followed by Dende & Hahahaes, a band that featured hot Brazilian Rhythms. It was quite the day...I slept well that night!

Sunday always starts out at LEAF for me in the Eden Hall, with a performance by the Warren Wilson College Folk Choir. My buddy Milt is the choir director and he does such a fine job finding folk music from around the world and directing his students in presenting it. It is always a LEAF highlight for me. This performance was followed with an hour of waltzing in the Dance Hall! Whew...damned near a dream come true. >g< It is such a pleasure to waltz with 6 or 7 different partners, all of whom know how to waltz and who love it as much as I do. After the waltzing I caught a set by Ben Sollee, which was another highlight. Ben is a master cellist, who plays with the Sparrow Quartet, and he puts on a marvelous solo set. After his set I got to work with my teardown operation and that went well as well. Then of course I had to catch Abigail Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet! For those not familiar, this group features Abigail, Ben, Casey Driessen, and none other than Mr. Bela Fleck. Super super music, no doubt. A great way to end a great festival.

I love this festival! I haven't hardly even touched on all of the music and/or musical genres presented. Plus, there is the lake that folks canoe, kayak, and swim in; there is also a zip-line that goes into the lake, along with a big slide called the Gulley Washer that also propels folks into the lake! The arts vendors and the food vendors are all of top-of-the-line quality, and the same goes for the attendees themselves. This is truly a first-rate family festival and I feel damned lucky to be able to attend both in May and in October. And along with all the other wondrous parts of this festival, Jennifer and her staff also hold a "Leaf in Schools & Streets" program that is an "educational outreach program matching artists with youth in local schools and communities for hands-on workshops, residences, interactive performances and mentoring". There is also LEAF International, "matching youth globally with instruments and mentors, connecting through cultural traditions, and empowering through music". (did I mention that I love this festival....?!)

Peace, David

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

my last festival trip of 2008......

First off, folks...I am elated about the election!! It brings me both goosebumps and teary eyes...

My last festival trip of 2008 was a dandy! The first festival on the itinerary was the Lake Eden Arts Festival (Leaf) in North Carolina and the second stop was in Florida for the Magnoliafest. The trip did contain some mixed emotions, but mostly for the good. It started out on October 9th, where my first stop was in Madison. I met two of my daughters at daughter Amanda's club, the Alchemy, for supper. We were joined by Monica's hubby Jeff and their more than wonderfully cute daughter Malia (and one of my favorite grandchildren...>g<), and friends. Jon is a Merlefest buddy of mine and Steve is a longtime friend of my daughters; they both live in Madison, and it was a pleasure to have them join in our little family get together. I spent the night at Monica's house, and then headed off the next day for Nashville.

It was a Friday night in Nashville when I arrived and I took in a Steep Canyon Rangers show at the World Famous Station Inn. I do love this place and have spent quite a few great musical nights there...I always check their schedule if I happen to be able to schedule a stop. I've been a fan of the Steep Canyon boys now for a few years; I really am diggin' their sound. Plus, Curley Seckler sat in with them for a few tunes and that was a treat as well. The Station Inn is a special musical treat!

I arrived in Asheville on Saturday and set up camp at the French Broad River Campground, which is located only about 15-20 minutes from downtown Asheville. It is sooo sweet to camp on the side of this magnificent river, with a wireless-highspeed internet connection right in my campsite! (the best of at least a couple of worlds...>g<)That night I ate a nice supper at the Jack of the Woods in Asheville, another sweet club that features great music. I caught the David Earl and the Plowshares show and danced the night away! They were hot and so were the dance partners....

At the end of the night I struck up a conversation with the keyboard player, who told me that his regular gig is with the Snake Oil Medicine Show....a band that I'm pretty familiar with from a couple of different festivals; they are a hoot! The lead singer, Caroline Pond, and I have danced...she is a riot; possessing enthusiasm galore, the rhythm to match, and sooo damned cute. He told me that the next night he'd be playing at the Rocket Club with an 8 or 9 piece swing jazz band...and that Caroline would sure to be there! I of course showed up, surprised Caroline, and had an awesome night of music and dance. I love Asheville....I have many friends, both old and new and in between, living there and so its a gas to be able to come to the area twice a year. If I ever moved to a town, Asheville would be at the top of the list.

On Monday I moved on to the Leaf venue, which is located at Camp Rockmont. This camp was once home to the Black Mountain College, a trail-blazing arts college that flourished in the 30s and 40s in those magical mountains. It has a wonderfully special vibe happenin', and Jennifer Pickering and her Leaf staff have picked up and even expanded on this positive feeling; I felt at home from the first day I arrived 4 years ago. I love getting to the festival venues early, having the time to do all of my setup work and at the same time watching the festivals grow. 'Tis exhilerating, to say the least! For the first couple of nights I'm about the only person on the grounds...I love it.

I will touch on the details of the Leaf itself in Part 2. Peace, David

Saturday, September 27, 2008

another springfest adventure....

I have a long drive to get to all of the festivals that are on my schedule! I live in the far northern part of Wisconsin and can't help where they hold all of those sweet festivals that I love so much... I have had both wonderful and not-so-wonderful experiences on those drives, and the one that I took a few years ago on the way to Florida for the Suwannee Springfest had elements of both.

The Springfest is held in March and that's a trick in itself in that the weather in Wisconsin during this time of year can be a challenge! The potential for big-ass snowstorms is always present...these storms can produce massive amounts of heavy wet snow; the kind that is not very much fun to drive in.

This particular trip had a potential for being a dandy! As luck looked to be on my side, I had planned on reaching Nashville on Friday night, just in time for a visit to the Station Inn for an evening of fabulous music with that fabulous guitarist, Bryan Sutton, and "friends". Then, after arriving in Florida on Saturday, the plan was to go over to Jacksonville on Sunday for a concert featuring none other than Sam Bush himself, along with none other than Natalie McMaster! I would have plenty of time to get over to Jacksonville during the day on Sunday, hang around on the beach, take in a good meal at sweet restaurant on the beach, and catch this for-sure fabulous concert...this was lookin' good. >g<

So---the weather leading up to my departure from home sent a wrench into my plans; one of those storms was comin' on. But, it didn't look like a big problem, as I could simply leave a day earlier which would allow me to get south before the storm hit and consequently put me in Nashville a day earlier; I could handle that! Things were still lookin' good as I left home, but after only an hour and a half of driving my truck's engine decided that it had had enough. Luckily I was in a gas station across from a Ford dealership when this happened and just as lucky the fine fellow in the service department had a buddy who was in the salvage business and who had just taken in an accident truck whose engine was the same as mine and this engine had not been damaged in the accident...whew!

I had to spend a couple of days in a motel near the dealership, which of course was not that much fun, even though they had a very nice pool and there was plenty of March madness basketball on the tv. My "new" engine was in the process of being removed from the damaged truck at the same time that my blown engine was being removed from my truck, so the process only took a couple of days...this was in itself a stroke of luck! During this time the snowstorm came and went, so I was able to avoid it, but the Nashville plans didn't happen. I was back on the road on Friday, however, so my Sunday date with Mr. Bush and Ms. McMaster still looked good.

I arrived at the Suwannee park early on Sunday morning to find that a family was camped in "my spot". They were there for the weekend and would be leaving in the early afternoon, so I decided to try to nap in the truck. This didn't work very well, but I did come up with a Plan B. My truck and trailer were still covered with Wisconsin salt and snow grime and so they could certainly need a washing and I had plenty of time....a water spigot was handy and my cd boom box ready to make some sweet sounds. It was a slow process...I used a coffee pot from my camp kitchen to supply both the wash water and the rinse water, but while this was slow, the desired effect was obtained!

It was around 1:00pm when the family finally had packed up and left and I was able to move over to start setting up my camp. When I got there I of course noticed that they had had a big campfire goin' all weekend, right where I always set up my tent! There was a huge build up of still hot coals and I of course had to remove them....I would shovel some sand into the bottom of my plastic wheelbarrow and then shovel some of those hot coals and then haul them over to another water spigot for cooling off. Whew, another slow process! Eventually I was successful and in the process I had produced a big depression where my tent would sit so I also had to replace the sand removed to make the area once again level. And then just for safety sake I hauled some water with my only partial-burnt plastic wheel barrow and dumped it on the area, making sure that I wouldn't be setting my tent up on a still-hot ground!

It was sort of fun doing this job...the tunes were goin' good and the weather was nice and I usually like a challenge anyway. I was pretty far into the process when a fellow came up to me, asking just what this "Dancin'Dave" thing was all about anyway; he and his buddy and their families were camped near where I had done the wash job and so they had read the side of my trailer. I told him what I was up to and it was then that he mentioned: "Yah...we were watching you wash your truck and trailer; you were using a coffee pot!". I agreed with him of course and it was then he exclaimed that they were all wondering why I didn't come over and borrow their water hose! (and why they thought that I knew that they even HAD a water hose I've never been able to figure out...>g<)(it still makes me smile whenever I think about it...)

Anyhoo...I was finally able to start setting up my camp! I had camped in the same spot for about 6 or 7 years at that point, twice a year...once for the Springfest and then again in the fall for the Magnoliafest, so I know exactly where everything fits. So, I set up my tent, staking the back edge, and then flipping it over so I could rake out the spot and put down the ground cloth. As I was raking I noticed that there was water seeping in and my first thought was: "Mmm...I must have dumped more water on the spot than I thought I did..." However, the water kept comin' at a good pace and it wasn't long before I realized that there was no way that I had dumped THAT much water....and sure enough, I had driven one of the tent stakes right through a 3/4 inch plastic water pipe that turned out was buried a whole three or four inches under the ground! Once I realized what was goin' on I rushed down to the park office and they assured me that a fellow would be up soon to take a look.

The young fellow did show up quickly and we both proceeded to shovel in the gushing water to find the broken pipe; it was then that he mentioned: "oh...there's probably an electric line running in the same area." "HUH?!"....was my reaction to this news! So we gingerly shoveled and sure enough I did find an electric line buried right alongside the water line and luckily the ginger-shoveling had paid off for the electric line hadn't been damaged. (of course, if one of us would have hit said line hard enough with our shovels we probably wouldn't have had enough time to notice...)
He ran off to find a shut-off valve and I proceeded to dig a trench for the water to drain away. He came back soon and told me that he had found a shut-off valve...but I pointed out the fact that the water hadn't really stopped! And it was then that he said: "oh...we're at the high spot in the area and so all of the water is draining out here". Another "HUH?!" was my reaction to this observation! So I did talk him into going to look for another shut-off valve, which he finally did and so finally all the water stopped draining to the highest spot in the area.... (I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried, folks.) the time I got all the water drained and my tent set up I had just enough time to hightail it over to Jacksonville for the Sammy/Natalie concert. I of course wasn't able to spend any time at the beach and my plan of eating at a sweet restaurant didn't pan out either...but hey, the concert was hot!!

And consequently the rest of the week went smoothly and the Springfest was wonderful and I have had fun telling this story again and again; it still brings a smile to my face...

Peace, David

Sunday, September 14, 2008

more northland dancin'.....

Dancin'Dave and Dancin' Connor David....

two of my favorite dance partners...!

Connor David and "white-hair Grandma"...dancin' at Northland.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

two small wisconsin festivals....

Art Stevenson & High Water

Connor David and Grandpa Dancin'Dave

Hello again, fellow music lovers...

I am damned lucky in that I get to attend many festivals every year! Most of them are on my business schedule...these festivals are festivals that I would deem to be "major" festivals; ones that feature many top bands and ones that attract festivarians from all around the country and many parts of the world, even. I love it...

And at the same time I am also lucky to have a bunch of smaller festivals near my home here in Wisconsin...ones that I don't attend with my business; these are strictly for pleasure! This year I was disappointed that I wasn't able to attend Flatrock, a festival that is put on by a couple of old friends of mine and one that is always a hoot. I had a family gathering that weekend, so other than the fact that these family gatherings are always precious, the timing sucked. >g< Also, for about the first 7 or 8 years I attended the Big Bull Falls Blues Festival held in Wausau, Wisconsin; but for the last few years the timing hasn't been right for that festival, either. (good thing that my family is sooo damned cute...>g<)

I was able to take in two fine festivals near home in August, however. The first was the Northland Bluegrass Festival, held near Iola. This was the 9th annual, already (!), and is hosted by Art and Stephanie Stevenson and their band High Water. Besides being friends of mine, this band has really impressed me with their high-quality, high-energy and hard-driving traditional bluegrass music. They do a fine mixture of both bluegrass standards and original music...the musicianship and the vocal harmonies are wonderful. Plus, the crowd reaction is exciting as can be...the dance floor is kept hoppin' throughout all of their sets! This year the festival also featured Frank Ray & Cedar Hill (who I missed because I could only make it to the festival on Saturday); Rob Lumbard (a mighty fine bluesy kind of guitarist); Spare Time Bluegrass, from Madison, Wisconsin; New Bad Habits, a wonderful old-timey band who really got the crowd dancin' up a storm; and Sloppy Joe, a Wisconsin favorite who pride themselves in playing their own genre of acoustic music that they dub "slopgrass". (and don't you dare tell them that they are playing it wrong...they invented the genre! >g<) They also get the crowd gotta' love a festival that saves 50% of the area in front of the stage for dancing!

I have many friends at Northland that I've known for at least 30 years now...we're all veterans of the ol' Mole Lake Bluegrass Festival that started in the mid-70s and ran until the early 90s. THAT was a festival that has stories! >g< (and none of them need embellishment...)

But my biggest highlight of Northland this year was the fact that Lynn and I took grandson Connor David to his first overnight festival trip! He was a bit shy at first, but warmed up quickly to the music...he danced his little 6 year old legs to exhaustion until 10:00 that night. He and Grandma Lynn hit the tent at that time, and Grandpa stayed up and danced until the band stopped... The next morning my heart melted when he told me: "I sure had fun dancing with you last night, Grandpa!"

The second festival actually had started out as a birthday party for a good friend, Jimmer, who is the bass/washtub player for Sloppy Joe. I really don't know how long this party has been goin' on, but it certainly had's now a four day festival that features a big variety of bands that represent a variety of musical genres. Again, Lynn and I could only attend one day/night, but it was a dandy. The highlight of the festival, musically, was the Piper Road Spring Band, who have been together now for 35 years! The members are scattered around the country these days and they don't get together for a whole lot of gigs, but when they do and when I get to see them it is always a treat....they never disappoint.

Both of these festivals are major dancin' events... I love it! It's a real hoot to spin around partners both old and young...I do like to tease my older friends/partners that I just have to keep finding younger and younger partners seeing as how the older ones keep getting older; of course they like to point out the fact that I can't dance for 10 or 12 straight hours anymore either! One of my "new" partners is a little 18 year old cutie named Jenny who has all the rhythm and enthusiasm and energy in the world and who I can't dance with more than a couple of dances in a row....whew! (I tell myself that at this point in my life that it's not the quantity, it's the quality....>g<)

And as an added dancin' treat, a good friend of mine who I've seen at festivals in Colorado, New York, and Florida over the span of many years has started showing up at Northland every year for the past 4 or 5! He lives in California and he was visiting his mother, who lives near the Northland festival, one year and while reading the local paper he discovered the festival, knew that I lived somewhere in Wisconsin, and checked it out. It was a wonderful surprise to see him there that year and it is always a treat to get to visit with him wherever we meet....Mike is one of my favorite male dancers; I love to watch him groove to the music!

Festival life is sure grand....

Peace, David

Mike and Jenny.....

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

my most exciting trip to a festival...

In the fall of 2001 my son Noel and his wife Jenny announced to me that I would become a Grandpa! (I had been sort-of a grandpa by then, as my wife Lynn's daughter had had a son (Alic) 6 years prior, but at that time we were not married.)I was of course looking forward to my own "children" becoming parents, and Noel was to be the first.

In the spring of 2002 things were goin' along smoothly, but that stopped when Jen's water broke, at the start of the 25th week of her pregnancy. This was totally unexpected, as it was a full 15 weeks before this was supposed to happen! There was no indication of anything unusual up to that point...Jen was perfectly healthy. She spent the next three weeks bedridden in the hospital; the doctors would not even allow her to get up to visit the restroom. Through those three weeks she was her usual ebullient up-beat self, and Noel was his usual supportive, upbeat self.

On March 17th I left a day early for my trip to the Suwannee Springfest in Florida so I could stop in Green Bay to see her and Noel. I had made my daily call to her in the hospital before I left, and she was definitely not as chipper as she had been...but hey, the strain on her had to be getting to her.

I arrived to the hospital at around 4:00 in the afternoon. The nurses had moved her from the "birthing room" to a room right around the corner, and a new nurse had just started her shift. The three of us were talking when the nurse noticed something different goin' on with the monitors that were hooked up to Jen and went off to find the head nurse. They both came back quickly and just as quickly moved Jen back to the room she had been in all those weeks. So, there we were, back in the birthing room, wondering what was goin' on. After a little while I went for a walk, ending up in the fathers' waiting room, where soon after I heard a commotion in the hall. I looked out to see a nurse come running down the hall, pushing an incubator and entering the door next to Jen's room. In a second she came back out, hustling back to where she had come from. My thoughts were: "mmm...someone else has just had a baby.."

Turned out that that was my new grandson! Connor David had been born in the couple of minutes after I had left...there were two doors and two rooms where Jenny had been moved to. (It was ony about an hour after I arrived at the hospital.) Noel came to find me soon after, telling me that his son had been born! We went back into the room, and the three of us sat around, wondering just what the heck had just happened...>g<

It was soon after that the doctor came in, explaining the situation: Connor's lungs were not even ready to be working as yet, but that was not even the most pressing problem! He explained that at the start of the 28th week there are veins on the top of the head that connected to the skull, and fortunately seeing as how this was actually the first day of the 28th week that there was a possiblity that that had happened but that he didn't know for sure at that point....the spot of blood needed to be of a certain small size in order for it to be a good connection. It was soon after that Noel and I were allowed to go to see Connor, and I swear that the diaper that they had on him was the size of my thumbnail! He weighed a whole 2lb 4oz, and was the tiniest human being that I had ever seen...and he arrived a full 12 weeks early.

So--Connor David spent an excruciating three months in the hospital, and his chance of survival was always in doubt; except in Noel's mind. (and I was sooo afraid that he was setting himself up for the most dramatic downfall...) Connor had many blood tranfusions during this time, and in a long story-short explanation, he even got to the point where he had a last chance for survival...a steroid shot that was a last-ditch effort to get his lungs to work on their own. Lynn and I were at the hospital when this was administered, and Noel and Jen were damned near completely wore out both physically and mentally by this point. We were all told to go home and with that we said our goodbyes, with us heading home to the north woods (a three hour drive), and Noel and Jen to their home in Green Bay. It was a pretty somber scene...

And we weren't home very long when we got the call...Connor had started breathing on his own!!! (I have goosebumps and tears happening even now as I'm typing...) Oh my goodness...we all cannot thank enough the marvelous efforts and know-how of all the folks that administered Connor's life-saving procedures during all of that time! And Connor David became known in the hospital as the "miracle baby"...a cover boy in a hospital publication, even. >g<

Today Connor David is a super intelligent, way way cute healthy 6 year old spitfire who is about to enter 1st grade! He is a joy to the whole family, and I couldn't be more proud of the father that my son has become or the mother that Jenny is.

Noel and Jenny

My Favorite Photo of Connor David, at the Edge of Turtle Lake (a beautiful little lake near my home)

The day after Connor's birth I had to head south to the festival. I was goin' down the Interstate at 70 miles an hour when this poem simply popped out of my brain. I wrote it down while I was driving...the original scribbling can only be read by me! After the poem was written I called Jen, reciting it to her while she lay in her hospital bed and I continued driving. Actually, I recited and cried my way through is still her favorite version. I stopped at the nearest small town in Illinois and rewrote it and mailed it to them...and there was NOT ONE edit! The poem basically wrote itself...

An exciting thing happened
On the way to the gig.
Connor David is small,
But his impact is big.

He burst in the scene
With a flourish and flair;
A handsome little boy,
And he even had hair!

His mother deserves
All the thanks and acclaim
That befits a true hero,
Not only in name.

And then there's the Father,
A handsome young lad
Whose son will be proud to say:
"This is my dad".

Connor David will choose
A path of his own;
It's direction may vary,
For a time be unknown.

And he'll go down that path
Knowing the truth in his heart,
That his parents have loved him
Right from the start.

And if I remember was a helluva' Springfest!

Peace, David

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

floydfest 2008...the music

Floydfest is another one of those festivals that I'm not familiar with most of the music presented, and I like it! The staff at Floydfest obviously search far and wide for their lineup....there's a wealth of musical talent in the hills of Virginia so there are many local artists presented, plus their search takes them around the country and to many parts of the globe as well. I like it...>g<

The first band that I heard as a matter of fact I wasn't aware of...Junior League. They may have come from the Washington D.C. area, but I can't be sure. I do know that I was very impressed with their originality and presentation of their music. The band's music is highlighted by the sweet vocals of Lissy Rosemont.

Following the Junior League was the Chatham County Line, who I have been familiar with for a couple or few years now. They hail from North Carolina and are a tight mostly traditional bluegrass band who does all original material. I saw them the weekend before at Greyfox and I hope to see them many times in the future. They are booked by the lovely Holly Baranski Lohman, who is both a customer and a friend of mine...she told me that the band is very popular in the Netherlands! I also really got a charge out of a Workshop Porch set by some "Crooked Road All-Stars", musicians who live and play on the Crooked Road that winds through the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. I didn't know any of the musicians, but they sure were good! Another fine young group was Oneside, from the Boston area, who dubs themselves a "rock band with a banjo".

A very good hot young bluegrass band is the Farewell Drifters. I had seen them in Florida at the Suwannee Springfest and was duly impressed by them again. I love their stage presence, also...

the everybodyfields are from Johnson City, Tn. Sweet, sweet music! I didn't know what "genre" folks would catagorize them in, until I heard the term "alt-country", and because of this I still don't know...I do know, though, that they played quite a few wonderful waltzs and that I found just the right partner for this, so I very much enjoyed their set!

There was such hot music in the Dance Tent! Rev Peyton's Big Damn Band, Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band, 3 Minute Lovin', and even Crooked Still had the place hoppin'! One curiosity though that always gets me wonderin' is when I come to the Dance Stage and find that most of the floor is covered by folks sitting in lawn chairs! Huh? It takes lots of cajoling at times to get folks to realize just exactly what a "Dance Stage" means...>g<

And of course there were some "usual suspects" on the Floydfest lineup. Railroad Earth is always fun; I'm always glad to see them on a festival lineup. The David Grisman Quintet is of course a treat. The weekend before at Greyfox I saw David with his bluegrass band...the man is amazing. I do miss Joe Craven in the quintet, but am really liking the guitar work of Frank Vignola, who is a really fine addition. Michael Cleveland & Flamekeper is another band that I got to see two weekends in a row and that's a good thing! Super bluegrass band....

My two favorites obviously fall into that "usual suspect" catagory. The first being Tony Trischka...I have been a fan of Tony's since the mid-70s, when I first saw him with his band "Skyline". He is of course a master musician, and his latest project is the Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular and it is every bit of spectacular! A couple of years ago I found that Tony is also a fine person and that's always a good thing to find out...I will have to tell that story someday.

And my favorite band was one that I hadn't heard before, but I knew they'd be my favorite going in! I have been a big fan of Crooked Still since they burst onto the festival scene, and although I knew that they had changed band personnel I was aware of the new members so I looked forward to the new lineup with much anticipation...and they delivered! Tristan Clarridge on cello and Brittney Haas on 5 string fiddle were hotter than hot. Add this to the banjo of Greg Lizt, the solid bass played by Corey Dimario, and the angelic singing of Aoife O'Donovan and this is a band that I like! Aoife is a sweetie and a friend and I taught her how to two-step at Merlefest last spring...did I mention she sings like an angel? >g<

On The Workshop Porch

And last but certainly not least is my good friend, John McBroom. His band is called "Blue Mule", and they play a mix of bluegrass, newgrass, jazz, rock and blues. John is a musician and a father and a teacher among other notable traits, and he's the kind of fellow that you admire more and more as you get to know him. I am proud to call him my friend.....

There was sooo much more! Floydfest music includes bluegrass, newgrass, mountain and folk, blues, rock, rockabilly, jazz, Latin and other world grooves. There was much music that I didn't get to check out, but it sure was fun listening to friends rave about what I missed! Eclectic is an appropo word to describe this festival...classy and hip-happenin' would be a couple of others. This festival has come onto its own, and has to take a backseat to no festival that I've ever been to. It's in a beautiful setting and the staff has turned the venue into a treat for all of the senses. There are numerous varieties of food and craft vendors, all of high-quality. I am very proud to be a part of this...

And I still don't get the Avett Brothers, or Donna the Buffalo, for that matter....

Peace, David

Sunday, August 10, 2008

one of my greyfox groups....

Len is on guitar and vocals and his wife Anneke is playing the cello. They have come to Greyfox from the Netherlands now for four years in a row...and in the process have made friends with Matt on the bass and Hil on the mandolin and I don't remember the guitar playin' gal's name. The flutist is none other than the lovely Laurie. They all camp together...a group of eight tents; I love my patrons! >g<

A floydfest cutie....

I have contended that other than videos that I have of my own grandchildren this video of Isaac jammin' on his banjo at Floydfest has to be the cutest video I have ever seen! I am sure glad that I happened to be in the right place at the right time.... Isaac and his parents Nancy and Derek are friends of mine at Floydfest and are the kind of folks that make my festival experiences so precious.

the Hill Holler Stage....

This video helps to show the beauty of the Floydfest! The Blue Ridge Parkway is way up on the hill, and the entrance to the festival is just below it. My good friend, John McBroom, and his band "Blue Mule" are playing....

floydfest 2008....a family affair

It can be stressful to have two big festivals on back-to-back weekends! Because of the way the calendar works out, for the last two years Greyfox and Floydfest do just that, and it takes a bit of luck and some mighty fine help in order for me to pull it off. The teardown at Greyfox went did rain a bit, but those tents that got wet were getting put back up soon anyway.

And it surely helps that the folks at Floydfest save my "spot"! I have been with the Floydfest from Day 1, and over the years have actually built a really nice camping area out of what once was just a piece of woods that featured high spots, low spots, dead and broken trees, stumps of all sorts, etc..... By the third year I was bringing along my chain saw, which surely helped the process! Along with the chain saw I extensively used a pick axe, shovel, rake, machete, and other such implements of contruction/destruction to carve out a very sweet festival camping area. I know where every tent and gazebo fits in amongst the trees and walk-ways, so when I get there a little raking is all the prep work I need to do. And again, I was blessed with having a couple of hard-workin' fun folks who were a riot to hang around with. And Terra's four year old son Blake was a treat! (my favorite age for all of my children was four...) He was dedicated to the Dancin'Dave cause, asking inumerable questions that I usually had a good answer for; and if I didn't he'd persist until I came up with one...>g< He is waaay cute, and I can't believe that I never took a photo of him!

Terra and wonderful helpers (Travis is NO where near as scary as he looks..>g<)

So much thanks and admiration goes out from me to Kris and Erika, whose vision of what their festival was to come to be has been successfully reached! This was the seventh year for Floydfest, and it has been fun to watch it grow into a world-class festival...I'm damned proud to be a part of it. Thanks also goes out to those folks who hold off the campers/volunteers who want to set up in my "spot" before I can get there...Theresa (who is also a favorite dance partner of mine), Joel (who is not..>g<), and Shannon and a couple of other folks that I don't really know; it helps to make for a very smooth transition from Greyfox to Floydfest. I know that my regular customers sure appreciate knowing exactly where they will be camped from year to year. Also...thanks to Tom, the owner of the land on which the Floydfest sits! It of course is very generous of him to do this...he's a more than fine fellow who worries about my arrival until I actually get there.

David and His Two Kids Love Their Setup On the Corner of "Happy" and "High" Streets! (He does the campsite decorations...>g<)

Tanya and Theresa are Major Cogs in the Floydfest Organization and Mother and Daughter and now Mother and Grandmother, Thanks to the Arrival of Devan a Month Ago!

Dreaming Creek Main Stage...That's the David Grisman Quintet on Stage (honest!)

Cutie Dance Partners of Mine (I'm a Lucky Guy...>g<)

The Hodag is a Mythical Creature That Lurks Around the Rhinelander, Wisconsin Deep Woods...If the Person Who Wrote This Note on My Truck Sees This...Who Are You?!

A Beautiful Floydfest/Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway Sunset

I Have an Affinity for Good Fathers and Their Cute Kids...Check Out Those Eyes! (I don't know who these fine folks are...)

And I had my first ever "f**k up" at Floydfest! I had a customer name of Martin and a customer name of Marty, and I switched their campsites....Martin was supposed to have a gazebo at his site and Marty wasn't, but I did get them mixed up and when Martin showed up wondering where his gazebo was I realized the screw-up. Marty had already "checked in", and as it turned out he was probably wondering why there was this gazebo next to his tent! Martin took my foul-up in stride..he is a classy kind of guy! He's also a well-reknown author, Martin Clark, who wrote "The Many Aspects of "Mobile Home Living", "Plain Heathen Mischief", and his new novel, "The Legal Limit". The New York Times magazine calls him "the thinking man's John Grisham", and a great example of his classy nature is the fact that he sent me a copy of "Mobile home..." and "Legal limit..." and actually thanked me for being a part of my first "f**k up"! I told him that if I was going to screw up that he and his wife Deanna were good choices...>g< Martin is also a circuit court judge, living in Stuart, Virginia.

But the best line that I heard during the festival was from a sweet young woman who asked me if the sunshower setup that I had set up for a customer would cause water to run into the tent that she wanted to set up. I pointed out the fact that actually her spot was on higher ground, so that shouldn't be a problem at all. She replied with: "thanks so much...I'm not much of a camper!" Damn, she sure was cute though...>g<

I will get into the music part of Floydfest in Part was an amazing musical treat!

Peace, David

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

greyfox 2008...there was more!

I haven't yet mentioned the Kids Academy! Their Sunday Main Stage set is always a tear-laden affair....those youngins' are sooo damned cute!! I'm proud to do a small part for the program by setting up some gazebos that the kids can practice under during the festival; many thanks have to go out to Karen and Mike and George and Brian and a host of other fine folk that have put together and keep together such a wonderful program. It is a treat....I happened to be sitting next to the mother of one of the younger fiddlers during the set and she couldn't have been beaming more!




By far the funniest moment for me at this year's Greyfox happened during Sam Bush's workshop. Sam and his guitarist Stephen Moughin were in the middle of a more than fine workshop when a fellow wearing a full-face rabbit mask came sneaking in from behind the tent. He came up to Sam, startling him at first, but cracking him up soon after! Sam immediately started playing "White Rabbit", using the words: "and the ones that Jerry gives you don't do anything at all....". It was flippin' hilarious; Jerry Douglas is a riot, and he danced and moved around Sam and Stephen as they made their way through most of the song. The crowd was cracking up as well, of course. Sam told me later that he was pretty sure that that was the first time that Stephen has ever played that song....>g<



At the Leaf last May I met Bob Dylan's soundman, Pablo...pretty neat. At Greyfox 2008I had just received a wonderful massage and was relaxing with another fellow in the area set aside for just that thing. We struck up a conversation and lo and behold I met Ryan Rinoso (sp?), who is Sammy's soundman! We had a fun time together, and he got a charge out of a Dylan story that came out of my meeting with Pablo that I haven't told in a blog. Ryan's a good guy, and he told me that working for Sam is a riot...go figure.

And last but not least: I was never a fan of tie-dye, despite growing up in the 60s. However, a bunch of years ago Lynn bought me a sweet tie-dye dress shirt made by a fellow named Mark, whose tie-dye work was unique and very cool. (Mark was a sort-of friend of mine; I knew him for many years at many festivals. He was intelligent on one hand and an idiot and disgusting on the other. But most of all he was a true tie-dye artist. He died during this past year....)Over the years I have received many compliments on that shirt and another that I can recognize Mark's work in an instant. I decided a couple of years ago that Sam shloud have a shirt like that, so after months of trying to get ahold of Mark I finally connected. He made a shirt for me/Sam and mailed it to me. Turned out it was a t-shirt, and when I wrote back to him to tell him that I wanted a dress/Hawaiian type shirt for Sam, he simply made another one and told me to keep the t-shirt.

I was wearing one of Mark's shirts when I ran into Bela while we were both watching Uncle Earl. He really like the shirt, commenting that it was very cool. We talked a little about Mark, and while doin' so I had a thought: "why not give Bela that t-shirt?" It was made originally for Sam, it's a collector's item, and like Sam Bush, Bela Fleck has entertained me in ways uncounted. I debated it overnight, even getting advice from Kristen Andreassen, whose advice made me want to give the gift. So after the Sparrow Quartet set I presented Bela with the shirt...he was surprised and said he felt honored. And I sure felt good about it, also....

Can I repeat myself?

What a festival!!

Peace, David

Monday, August 4, 2008

greyfox 2008...part 2

It was a fantastic Greyfox dancin'ly!! I spent lots of time in the dance tent and was blessed with both the great dance music and the great dance there was lots of dancin' happenin' at the Main Stage; again, I didn't miss the Hill where it was a challenge to keep from dancin' down a hill when you weren't even trying to...>g<

Actually, the dancing started a couple of nights before the festival started. Lynn and I stopped by the office that night, and were delighted to be treated to the sound of dear friend Lisa pickin' her guitar and singin' like an angel. I requested a waltz tune and it took her about 10 seconds to break into a sweet waltz that Lynn and I took advantage of by waltzing around the office. It was a sweet and wonderful moment, the kind that can bring tears to eyes....

I attended some outrageous dance sets in the Dance Pavilion... On Thursday night I danced to the Red Stick Ramblers, and it simply doesn't get any better than that! (but there are some sets that were just as good, come to think about it...>g<) On Friday it was Adrienne Young and then Uncle Earl, plus at night it was Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys that had me hoppin'. I had seen this group for the first time at Leaf last May, and knew that I couldn't miss their set! On Saturday it was again Adrienne Young, Uncle Earl, and for a night-time topper it was Red Knuckles!! I had many great partners during all of this dancin', but it was a real treat to notice the lovely Mary Burdette standing next to the dance floor during Red and so of course I took the opportunity to spin her around and around. Mary and I have waltzed a couple of times and waltzed once backstage at the Main Stage that same day, but this was the first time in all these years that we got to dance a few dances...the woman is usually WAY too busy during the festival to have time for the music. It was a special moment for me...Mary is one of the main cogs in that wonderful Greyfox staff and I admire her work and dedication to the Greyfox cause.

And getting together with my friend Kristin Andreassen on the dance floor was a hoot, as well! We also danced at the Main Stage...she is such a cute, talented, sweet young women and it's always a pleasure to visit with her. This was a rare Uncle Earl performance for this year...they are not doing many gigs this year, and I'm hoping that they get to do more in 2009.

This was the second year that we brought our grandson Alic to Greyfox. He's now 12 years old and is really a delight to have along. He works hard for the Dancin'Dave cause and it's not hard for me to keep him in good humor. He is quick with his mind, but I can still keep him guessing at times...>g< He was afraid that he wouldn't be able to come to Greyfox this year since he joined a junior baseball league for the first time this summer, but was estatic when he realized that his season ended just before we left for New York. His new-found love of the game was greatly accented when he and Lynn were able to attend a Yankee game at Yankee stadium (thanks to a customer of mine) before they flew home to Wisconsin after the festival. (I would have LOVED to have gone to the Stadium during this last year, but I had to hightail it down to Virginia and Floydfest...) Alic also had a grand time in the creek during the festival...what 12 year old wouldn't? And his favorite music was the Sammy set; he couldn't make it to the end, but he sure was diggin' it while he could! (he's a good boy...>g<)

What a festival! In blog #1 part of my praise for Mary Doub and her staff were cut off for no reason that I can fathom, so....thanks again, my friends, for helping to make yet another fantastic festival experience for me! You guys were faced with an almost unending list of challenges with the move to a new location, and in my mind you did a whale of a job.

Peace, David

Sunday, August 3, 2008

greyfox 2008....

I had meant to blog about my favorite festival before this year's version came around, but alas, I ran out of time. Suffice it to say at this point that the Greyfox Bluegrass Festival has been my absolute favorite festival ever since 1998 when I made my first trip to the Hill. Someday I may go back and touch on lots of the reasons why, but for now I'm going to concentrate only on this year.

It was a big year, of course, with the festival having to move location, after 31 years on the Rothvoss Hill. Despite the mystique of the Hill, I for one was super excited for the was a real bear to navigate and work on that Hill and I will be forever grateful that no one was ever seriously injured there, as far as I know. The new location promised to be a much more gentle experience, and I couldn't wait to see it in person.

Lynn and I and grandson Alic arrived on Saturday. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that there was some confusion as to where I could set up, bg< And all of my customers were happy with the setup and that's the main focus for me.

And the Greyfox staff has alot of big decisions to make concerning lots of different festival policies....from chair height to parking to vendors to stage placement; and the list can go on and on. I have the utmost of confidence in these folks to gather lots of opinions and try to sort them out as to what's best for the vast majority of the attendees. There's no way that everyone will always be pleased, but Mary and co. will do their best to please as many folks as they can. It is a tough job....

The Start of The Setup


There was music!! I am happy to report that the lineup was stellar as usual! Much thanks goes out to Chuck Wentworth for always putting together a top-notch musical experience. There were a few bands that I wasn't familiar with, such as Missy Raines & the New Hip; Kindling Stone; and Gravity...but I was well aware of the rest of the lineup and this caused me to smile long before the festival even started! Long time favorites such as the Dry Branch Fire Squad, Tim O'Brien, The Wilders, Jerry Douglas, the Del McCoury Band, and Adrienne Young & Little Sadie all put on their usual wonderful shows. Also, newer favorites such as Uncle Earl, The Greencards, Red Stick Ramblers, Chatham County Line, the Infamous Stringdusters, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, and Abigail Washburn & Sparrow Quartet each made their high musical marks in my book. Superb music all around... Plus, I missed what I know are top-line bands such as the Gibson Brothers and The SteelDrivers. I also really liked David Grisman's Bluegrass Experience...the Dawg certainly knows his way around the bluegrass!

Steep Canyon Rangers


The Greencards

Uncle Earl

Missy Raines & the New Hip

And a huge favorite show, one where I laughed, cried, and was astounded by was the Hot Rize/Red Knuckles & the Trailblazers show! I have seen Hot Rize and their traveling buddies several times over the years, and this particular show definitely has stood out for me. It was a magical set, and the Trailblazers part of it had me in stitches all the while....and as an added bonus, I happened to run into Elmo backstage as he was duck-taping the fringe on his fiddle in preparation for his Trailblazer appearance. He was happy to see me and then lamented that he had forgotten his cowboy hat....I was more than willing to let him use mine onstage, in fact it would have been a high honor! But my hat was a bit big for him, so he had to fall back on his beret. I would have been way more than estatic if the hat would have fit him...>g<

Hot Rize

Red Knuckles & the Trailblazers

Then there is my favorite, and Mr. Bush did not disappoint, as usual! My good buddy Maple Al have a theory that the best Sam Bush show has to have been the last one you witnessed....and that theory held true on that Saturday night. Sammy was hoping to play earlier in the evening but when it was pointed out that he is always a tough act to follow he agreed to the later time on the condition that he play as long as he for me!! He ripped it up for over two hours in his usual dynamic songs, old Sammy songs, and a bunch of old New Grass Revival tunes made for the most exciting set of the festival in my eyes and ears, and I realize that that thought is a broken record on my part. But...I can't help it. Thanks again to Sam, who always gives it his all and then some. He is the King.


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As you can tell....I had a great time at Greyfox 2008! I will be blogging Part 2 of my favorite festival shortly...

Peace, David

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

surreal and magical all in the same night...

There are only a handful of musical acts that I will drive a couple of hundred miles to see; some would include Sam Bush, Richard Thompson, Doc Watson and Jack Lawrence, and any group that Mike Marshall and/or Darol Anger would be playing in at the time...>g< (I know that there are more, but I'm just working quickly off the top of my head at the moment..)

Last Sunday I traveled to Minneapolis to see the Waybacks! This group is right in that top list of favorites of mine, and when I noticed that my chances of seeing them again this season are pretty slight (schedules can always update...) and that they had added the Minneapolis show there was little doubt that I'd make the trip to see them.

They were booked at a venue that I had attended once before, to see Richard Thompson for the first time. This venue is famous in the Cities for hosting big-time rock acts for many years was actually Prince's home gig for years, and the list of acts that has appeared there is amazing. When I arrived there for Richard's show I found that once you entered the club you could not leave and re-enter...and I didn't like this! (there are simply some times when I HAVE to go outside for a breather...) But, due to the fact that I was on Richard's "guest list" I found that I could come and go wherever and whenever I this was good!

When I learned of the Waybacks show and where it was being held I got ahold of my buddy cool Joe Kyle jr., the group's bass player, and he graciously put me on their guest I was set.

There was to be an opening act and when I arrived I could hear blasting from inside some music that I could only describe as "head-banging heavy metal", which is about as far away from any music that I'd ever want to hear, so the guest list deal was sounding better and better. I thought I'd pick up my ticket so I stopped at the box office, where I found that there was a couple of pages of names (!) on the guest list, but my name was not on it. When asked about it, I explained that I'm here with the Waybacks; and then is when I found out that they weren't playing in that part of the building. They were playing right around the corner in a different part of the same buliding.

So--I went around the corner and entered the club. It was a tiny club, with a stage and a dance floor and maybe a half-dozen small tables and an equally small bar. And there was no one there! I stood there for a couple of minutes, after which the bass player for the opening band came out and started milling around the stage. (this was almost a half an hour after the show was supposed to start...)

Well, I decided to go for a walk.... I am getting a charge out of big cities these days; a new phenomonen for me that only started as of late. And it was a nice, longer than I had thought it would be, walk through the heart of the downtown area..lots of interesting stuff! >g<

When I got back to the venue I ran into a friend of mine that I had met on a previous Minneapolis music trip and that was sweet....she was not at all familiar with the Waybacks and I assured her that she was in for a treat! We walked in to find that the opening act was almost done and that there was about six people in the club....including Joe, who was sitting on a bench. It was good to see him, of course, and this is where the surreal part of this story starts....

I am used to seeing the Waybacks tear up any festival stage that I've seen them at. I see them usually with thousands of other folks that are being blown away as well. If they are playing a gig at Merlefest you had better be there early if you want a seat....that kind of stuff. But here I was, in a city that I consider to be a hip-happenin' musical hotspot and one that I had driven around 225 miles to get to so I could have a great night of music, about to see this hotter than hot band....with about 7 or 8 other people!! (I'm not making this up!!)Unreal...surreal, even.

And to the band's credit, they did not hold back! They rocked the joint...James Nash did his usual monster guitar thing; Warren Hood absolutely tore up that fiddle (WHAT a talented young man he is!); cool Joe and Chuck Hamilton laid down different grooves during the many genres that the Waybacks cover; and you would have thought that they were playing for a packed house. Many kudos go out to such consummate was a riot. And this all for a total of maybe a dozen folks at the height of the attendance.

And then the magical part of the night happened: James announced a new plan....they would play one more tune plugged in and after that it was going to turn into a house party; they would go acoustic for the rest of the night. So, the first set was probably an hour and a half in length...and then the real party began! The bar tender started passing out free whiskey to any of the eight of us left who wanted any; oh..that would be 12 if you counted the band. We all gathered around...(I was actually sitting so close to James that I could have touched his guitar without even straigtening out my arm), and we all had a blast!! They of course took requests, but me and another fellow were the only ones familiar with their music...but I thought of lots of requests..>g< Plus, they played some Dead tunes, which really fired up the gathering, along with whatever tunes popped into anybody's head. They must have played for another hour and a half at least (I didn't have much conception of time 'cause I was having sooo much fun...), and hearing them in such an intimate setting was as magical as it gets in my book.

So---it was of course a financial failure for the fellows, but to their credit they made the most of it and I'm sure gathered a few (!) more fans. I know that my musical trip was certainly a high point...those kind of magical moments come around once in awhile and I savor the hell out of them when they do! It was super party..

Peace, David

Oh...James told a story that everyone got a charge out of: he was being interviewed by a reporter who admitted that he had only listened to the first song on the group's latest cd, and then went ahead and asked: "Do all of the songs sound like that?"

Saturday, June 21, 2008

a much lighter telluride memory....

Every year on this weekend my mind goes back to those many years that I attended the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Making the trip to Telluride every year was my own pilgrimage to my personal 1999, the first year since 1986 that I didn't attend, I spent the weekend at home gardening and listening to whatever artist was on the stage at that time. (of course there were a couple that I wasn't familiar with, or didn't have any of their music; but I did have most of them!)

These days the part of the festival that I miss the most is definitely all of the wonderful friends that I met! I do get to see a handful of them at other festivals around the country...some have been so sweet as to come to these festivals specifically to see me! (and it didn't hurt that these festivals are also top-notch...>g<)

Anyhoo....amongst all of the wonderful memories that I have of the Telluride experience one of my favorites happened one early morning while sitting in the line to get in. The Telluride tarp line happenin' turned out to be one of the things about the festival that I didn't care for; I came to hate it actually, but I don't need to get into the reasons why. (at the same time, I did have some good times in the line and did have lots of giggles and I did make friends because of the line.) At the time of this story the tarp line was not nearly as intense or obnoxious as it came to be....

Before the festival started I had met a new friend from Austin; it was his first time at Telluride and he was FIRED up! He was diggin' everything and smiling all the while... So---at 3:15am Thursday morning I am awakened by my tent being shaken, and hearing him calling: "com'on, David...let's go! Let's go to the line!" I of course tried to tell him that it really wasn't necessary to go sooo early, especially on the first day of the festival! But, he was insistent, so I reluctantly dragged my butt out of my nice warm sleeping bag and joined him.

When we got to the line there were maybe 50 folks already there, curled up in sleeping bags on the ground and sleeping away. My friend (I have to admit that his name is gone from my memory at the moment...) promptly laid down, crawled into his sleeping bag, and despite his excitement, fell immediately asleep. So there I was, wide awake, 3:30 in the morning, sitting in the mountain cold. I did manage to entertain myself; it was a beautiful sky-lit Colorado night and I had a way and a mean to keep myself amused, so it really wasn't that bad. >g<

The line was located next to a soccer field....a field that had to be irrigated to keep the grass green. So, at about 5:00 that morning, while it was still mostly dark and most definitely still mighty cold, the irrigation sprinklers automatically started doin' their thing! I was still awake and sitting in my chair at the end of the line, so I was the first to notice this....but it really didn't take long for all the folks sleeping so snugly to figure out that something was up! It was simply downright hilarious (at least for me!)...these sprinklers were goin' full blast, and the sleeping folks were getting a direct hit. (again, being at the end of the line and being away from the sprinklers had its advantage...)It was a surreal sight; everyone moving in a VERY slow motion at first, most of then goin' "WHAT the....!" but then scrambling like crazy to get up and out of their bags when they realized that they were being rained on in the freezing morning air! Eventually a couple of fellows were able to find a couple of big garbage cans that they used to put over the sprinklers, hence stopping the "rain"... At this point I was in the middle of "splitting a gut", as they say; I had never seen anything funnier. (hey...even the folks that got sprayed thought it was retrospect! >g<)

And at 6:30am, when the next person came to line up and got in line right behind me I had the fun of telling the story and also pointing out that if she would have got here 3 hours ago that she could have been sitting right where I was! She thought I was pretty funny, too....

Peace, David

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

another telluride tale....

In 1997, at the end of the month of May, I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. And even more fortunate was the fellow whose life I helped to save! I was part of a three man rescue that saved a man from drowning in a cold deep northern Wisconsin lake near home....and even earned a Wisconsin Sherrif's Association "Quick Thinking" plaque/award because of it. (my son still thinks to this day that I made the plaque myself...>g<)

A couple of weeks later I was in Telluride for the Bluegrass festival, when a group of us decided to go on a whitewater rafting trip. (sounded like a good and fun idea at the time...)So, we hired a guide and the five of us were excited about a wild ride! We were having a grand time, all six of us paddling in accordance with the guide's directions. The trip was goin' along smoothly until we hit a rock and the raft flipped over, throwing all of us into that raging freezing river...that roaring water was SNOW the night before!

Because of our positions in the raft, I was thrown the farthest, landing in the middle of the river, where a fight to stay afloat and alive was suddenly thrust upon me. It was a total water hell! There were times when I was tossed around, flipped around, and so was heading downriver head first...just the way you're not supposed to. During the 5 or 6 minutes that I fought the river I can remember thinking only one thing: "Where was everyone else, and how are THEY doing?!"

Fortunately a couple of the fellow rafters had not been thrown far and were able to pick up paddles and start after the rest of us who were farther down the river. I didn't actually see anyone until the raft had finally caught up to me, and what a marvelous sight that was! By then I had no strength left...they caught me just in time, I do believe. I spent the rest of my time in the raft at the bottom of the raft, too weak to paddle or even bail. Eventually we hit upon a spot where we could land and thankfully the trip was over!

Upon returning to Town Park, we had quite the story! A couple of nurse friends of mine did what they could to help me, and I do believe the biggest help came in the form of some kind of narcotic that one of them gave me which enabled me to sleep. Everyone was of course very happy that we made it...and everyone also predicted that there would be no dancing for me during this festival!

But of course I fooled em'.... >g< I was sitting in the glorious Colorado sun during the first set of the festival that Thursday, crying over what had transpired the day before and the fact that I was still around, diggin' the festival and all that entails. And then I danced....through stubborness and inspiration and sheer desire I ignored my bruised body (I had some magnificent black and blue marking ALL over my body!) and danced my way through the next four days! It was a hoot, as usual.

On the Monday after the festival Lynn and I were headed north and east, and were just entering the bigger mountains when we were driving around a left hand turn in the road...and suddenly, RIGHT in front of us a whirling dervish that we couldn't make out went blasting past us, headed down the side of the mountain. To this day we do not know if the dervish was a car or a truck or a was that close to us! As the vehicle went off the side of the mountain we could follow the clouds of dust as it headed deeper and deeper into the abyss, ending in a big dark black smokey cloud. There was a vehicle stopped in front of us and he was calling in the accident; so we kept on going, feeling there was really nothing we could do and feeling awful and damned lucky all at the same time....

We arrived home on Wednesday night. On Thursday morning as I was working on unpacking the car Lynn came to tell me that my Mother had called, asking that I come over..she wasn't feeling right. When I arrived I realized that she needed an ambulance. She was having a heart attack; one that she would die from, nine days later. During those nine days I traveled back and forth from the hospital (about an hour's drive) that they had flown her to....with my mind reeling and even hallucinating from all that had happened in the last couple of weeks; I would be driving along when suddenly I would be back in the river!

So---up until that less than a month of four death and near-death experiences I was pretty much a carpe-diem kind of fellow anyway, but after that I totally became and still am a carpe-diem kind of fellow.....

Peace, David